Somebody’s Touching Me!

A woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years made her way through the massive crowd and managed to touch the hem of the Lord’s garment and was healed. According to Mosaic Law she could have been stoned because contact with blood made one unclean. Unclean people were not to be out among crowds.Yet this woman braves the crowd and reaches out to touch his garment.

Everyone tried to touch Jesus that day, and most did physically, but there was something different about this woman’s touch. There was faith in it. She was prepared for the encounter. She was focused on her goal. Her mind was simple and clear: touch his garment and I will be healed.

How do we know that her touch was different from the others? Jesus said that when she touched him, he felt virtue go from him. He told her that her faith had made her whole.How did she get such a faith? It’s a faith that I want as well. Was she a great student of the Old Testament? Was she a great monastic, dedicated to a life of prayer? All Luke says about her is that she had suffered from an issue of blood and had spent all of her money on doctors. It seems that there wasn’t anything especially remarkable about this woman. How then did she come by such faith?

The Fathers give a remarkable answer. They said that her suffering had perfected her faith. Suffering? This doesn’t seem reasonable to us because we moderns do all that we can to avoid suffering. We are full card carrying members of the club of Epicurus. To us, all suffering is meaningless and dehumanizing (and truthfully, some levels of suffering cannot be explained away with pious platitudes).Yet, by her life, we discover a secret: suffering can bring forth a purified and simple faith, a faith that had a single-minded purpose – touch the hem of His garment.

Many scriptures point to the need for single-minded faith. “Whatever you ask in my Name, not doubting” will be done, Jesus said. This woman had these three things, clarity of focus, courageous faith and utter self-denial. She doubted nothing and focused on her goal to touch Him, and touch him she did! This may explain the emptiness of my own spiritual lives and practice. I am too scattered, too distracted and too burdened with the cares and pleasures of life. I ask for a lot of things from the Lord, but I also doubt many things. I want to touch Jesus and in fact I touch Him every week in the Eucharist. But do I really touch him? So far, I continue to hemorrhage, mostly from my heart.

Rather than seeing her as a fragile and sick woman reaching out to touch the Lord, we should see the image of the spiritual athlete who by the training of her suffering came to the Lord with faith. Frankly, I would rather not be sick to learn these things. It is possible to gain faith by a life of discipleship, by following the Lord and taking up our cross. To be alive is to suffer in some way or another. To take up a cross is to embrace a way that does not avoid suffering, but transforms suffering to purifying fire that produces a simple faith and an undistracted focus-to touch Him!

Do we know this woman’s name? Yes, the Church called her Veronica! Later, she will touch Him again as she wipes His face as he journey’s to Golgotha!

One Response to “Somebody’s Touching Me!”

  1. Moses Says:

    Thank you Father for this article, I find myself running away from suffering and complaining way too often.

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